In the late hours of a Thursday night at the Valero in Pleasanton, Katarina was finishing the last hours of her shift after arriving earlier in the afternoon. After being hired just recently as a store clerk, her actions behind closed doors have made her an unsung local hero.
An armed individual entered the store around 9 p.m. on June 30. The man said there was another man inside his truck with a gun. After moving the customers to a safe area and explaining the situation, Katarina was asked by her manager to escort everyone and lock the doors. The man refused to leave the store out of fear.
During the altercation, local law enforcement attended the scene. Inside the store, Katarina had just finished making a phone call and quickly discovered the individual loading bullets into a gun.
“I came out and he was on his knees loading a gun,” Katarina said. “I didn’t know he had one. So, I was just talking to him. He’s just like ‘I’m not a bad guy’ and just kinda looked at me scared.
Despite the uncertain circumstances, Katarina was able to defuse the issue and talk to the individual. After making it clear that she had no bad intentions, he kicked her. Moments later, law enforcement officials entered the store and arrested the male subject after confirming that no one else was in the truck.
Although the events during the initial clash may remain unclear, one thing is certain; Katarina remained calm, cool and collected. During an altercation that lasted about 30 minutes, she reassured the gunman.
“I wanted everything to be okay, I wanted him to be okay. I try to do [things] calm in these bad situations,” Katarina said. “A lot of people come here. I just know when they come here, just to treat them like people. Because that’s all they want. Just because they make bad decisions doesn’t make them any less human.
After only a few months on the job, Katarina has become comfortable in her position as a store clerk. Together with her colleagues and her manager, as well as some of her regular customers, she expressed her appreciation for those who created a positive atmosphere around her.
“I have a lot of regular clients that I see every day, which makes my job a lot easier. I have very good colleagues who make the work really good and I have a very good boss,” Katarina said.